Get Windows license key from your hardware in Linux

If you are running on hardware that originally came with a licensed Microsoft Windows operating system, you should check to see if you can get the license key from your hardware.

sudo hexdump -s 56 -e '"MSDM key: " /29 "%s\n"' /sys/firmware/acpi/tables/MSDM
MSDM key: 12345-09876-ABCDE-FGHIJ-ZYXWV (obscured, of course)

Or another way:

sudo cat /sys/firmware/acpi/tables/MSDM | strings

I never came across this tidbit until today! Apparently it is well-known throughout the Internet.



  1. Found it first at
  2. Strings method

dconf save and load from file

dconf save and load to file

GNOME-based desktops use a settings utility that is a little similar to the registry of a famous non-free operating system. I’ll spare you the ideological diatribe and get to the task at hand. I use Cinnamon from the Linux Mint project, and it is based on GNOME 3.

The command line tool for manipulating the settings is titled dconf.

Saving dconf settings to file

Dumping its output is easy.

dconf dump /
dock-items=['org.gnome.Terminal.dockitem', 'nemo.dockitem', 'firefox.dockitem']

Redirect to a file and you’re done.

dconf dump / > my-cinnamon.dconf

Pick a subdirectory if you wish to narrow it down.

dconf dump /org/cinnamon/sounds/

Loading dconf settings from file

The reverse is also as easy.
Make sure you use the same directory in the layout.

dconf load / < my-cinnamon.dconf

The story

This post is a precursor to a discussion about manipulating the settings programmatically in xfconf-query, which is the settings cli tool for the xfce desktop environment.
I wrote a wrapper script for a project of mine. Check out at github underneath my project bgconf.

Prepend output with time to generate each line

To show how long it takes before showing each new line of output, use this neat command.

long_command | ts -i "%.s"
$ ./configure --prefix=/tools | ts -i %.s
0.082337 checking for a BSD-compatible install... /tools/bin/install -c
0.002841 checking whether build environment is sane... yes
0.008164 checking for a thread-safe mkdir -p... /tools/bin/mkdir -p
0.000040 checking for gawk... gawk
0.005892 checking whether make sets $(MAKE)... yes



  1. St├ęphane Chazelas at

Restart cinnamon from command line

When cinnamon freezes up and needs to be restarted, you can restart it from Cinnamon itself or from a different terminal.

In Cinnamon

Press ALT+F2. Type in the letter r and press enter.

On the command line

To switch to another console terminal, press CTRL+ALT+F2.
On this terminal, type this command.

pkill -HUP -f "cinnamon --replace"



  1. User sim at

Find running X sessions


{ ps -eo pid,command | awk '/-session/ {print $1}' | while read thispid; do cat /proc/${thispid}/environ | tr '\0' '\n' | grep "DISPLAY" | sed -e "s/^/${thispid} $( stat -c '%U' /proc/${thispid}/comm ) $( basename $( readlink -f /proc/${thispid}/exe ) ) /;"; done; } 2>/dev/null | grep -iE "xfce|cinnamon"


I was working on a shell script that affects the running desktop environments. In order to find the running processes, owners, executable, and display session, I whipped up this one-liner.

Obviously here, I limit my searches to specific types of desktop environments. I was getting a dbus-daemon and at-spi2-registryd which I neither understand nor care about, so I added the regular expression search at the end. Feel free to modify for your own use.

Example output:

$ { ps -eo pid,command | awk '/-session/ {print $1}' | while read thispid; do cat /proc/${thispid}/environ | tr '\0' '\n' | grep "DISPLAY" | sed -e "s/^/${thispid} $( stat -c '%U' /proc/${thispid}/comm ) $( basename $( readlink -f /proc/${thispid}/exe ) ) /;"; done; } 2>/dev/null | grep -iE "xfce|cinnamon"
1791 bgstack15-local xfce4-session DISPLAY=:0

List outbound ssh sessions


sudo netstat -Watp | grep 'ESTABLISHED.*ssh' | awk '{print $5}' | sed 's/:ssh//;' | sort | uniq | while read line; do ps -ef | grep -o "ssh\s.*${line}"; done | sort | uniq | sed -r -e 's/ssh //g;' -e 's/-l (\w*) /\1@/;'


During other work, it came up that I was interested in seeing what outbound ssh sessions I was using. Now I don’t even know why it came up, because I was just writing a shell script to programmatically adjust my xfce settings using its xfconf-query API.

Walking through the command

sudo netstat -Watp | grep 'ESTABLISHED.*ssh' | awk '{print $5}' | sed 's/:ssh//;' | sort | uniq | while read line; do ps -ef | grep -o "ssh\s.*${line}"; done | sort | uniq | sed -r -e 's/ssh //g;' -e 's/-l (\w*) /\1@/;'

This whole statement lists the established ssh connections and then finds the running processes for those and tries to identify the usernames for them.
Step by step:
Everything before the while collects the list of established ssh connections.
sudo netstat -Watp | grep ‘ESTABLISHED.*ssh’ gets the list of ssh connections, and awk | sed | sort | uniq just gets the information we want from each row and removes duplicates.
The while read line; do :; done loop iterates over the list. So for each line in the list, search all running processes for that name on the same line as the expression ‘ssh.’
sort | uniq removes duplicates (apparently qemu+kvm in virt-manager uses a lot of separate ssh processes).
sed -r -e ‘s/ssh //g;’ -e ‘s/-l (\w*) /\1@/;’ trims extra characters and also converts compatible outputs into “username@hostname.”

Improvements to be made

This snippet as is only works if the ssh command issued matches exactly the description of the output of netstat. If dns reverse zones are not configured correctly, so that the netstat shows an IP address but the ssh command was a hostname, this snippet will not find it. I need to improve that, which will probably require a fancier script and not just a oneliner.




Virsh get total cpu allocations


virsh list | awk '{print $1}' | grep -oIE "[0-9]*" | while read word; do virsh dominfo ${word} | grep "CPU.s"; done | awk 'BEGIN {a=0;} {a=a+$2;} END {print a;}'

The explanation

If you want to get the total allocation of vCPUs to all the guests on a kvm host, you can use this one-liner.
virsh list gets the list of running domains (virtual machines).
The awk and grep get only the domain id numbers (could do it by domain name if you wish).
virsh dominfo gets the cpu allocation for each listed domain, by iterating over the list.
The final awk statements counts the numbers.

Get total physical CPUs available

virsh nodeinfo
CPU model:           x86_64
CPU(s):              24
CPU frequency:       1899 MHz
CPU socket(s):       1
Core(s) per socket:  6
Thread(s) per core:  2
NUMA cell(s):        2
Memory size:         198310648 KiB

Do task until it succeeds

A story

I was working on my vm and needed to reboot it. In order to ssh back into the machine, I would have to wait for it to come back online and start up ssh.

Instead of manually polling myself, I whipped up this little one-liner:

while ! ssh centos7-01a; do true; done

So it failed silently at first, and then started showing ssh_exchange_identification: Connection closed by remote host.
Then when OpenSSH was finally ready for me, my kerberos authentication proceeded normally and I was in.
Upon closing my session, the while loop concluded and returned me to my shell.

I came up with this little snippet on a whim, and it actually helped me out and was not obtrusive and did not fail in any way.